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Solomon Islands drops Facebook ban threat

The Solomon Islands will drop a planned ban on the use of Facebook and instead will work with the platform to address concerns over inflammatory critiques of the government aired in recent months, local media reports say.

Solomon’s Minister of Communication Peter Shanel Agovaka, who had been a chief supporter of the ban, told Solomon Business Magazine (SBM) that “Facebook will not be suspended”.

He had previously blamed “abusive language” and “character assassination” of government ministers, including the prime minister, being carried on the platform for the planned ban.

The government had been criticised on social media over the distribution of economic stimulus funds amid the coronavirus pandemic and the impact of the Pacific nation’s decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.

Agovaka also told the publication the country was working on new telecommunication laws to register all mobile SIMs, and that after discussions with Facebook’s Pacific office, the government expected to release detail about how its concerns would be addressed.

Facebook is a hugely popular forum for discussion in the Solomons, with its population of around 650,000 spread out over a sprawling archipelago.

The government also uses Facebook to broadcast speeches by the prime minister and to disseminate health information during the pandemic.

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